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ST. LOUIS – A serious new complication has surfaced for pregnant women who get COVID-19. Doctors confirm COVID is now infecting women’s placentas, causing early third trimester births and even fetal death. While it is rare, a pathologist in St. Louis confirms it is happening in the area.

SLUCare pathologist Dr. Jennifer Sehn researches placentas of women who’ve had complications with birth. She says the coronavirus knocks out what is basically the root system connecting the baby to the mom.

The baby can’t live inside the mom and must come out. Sehn says this finding has only become evident in the last few weeks to months. She calls them striking cases from a pathologist’s perspective.

Sehn says her colleagues in Europe and other parts of our region are seeing the same placentitis.

Pathologists are unable to test for the delta variant but say this wasn’t an issue early in the pandemic. Sehn says the placenta infections are not related to the mom being sick or the baby having the virus. The doctor says it is important to inform everyone of the small but serious risk. Doctors and the CDC are strongly encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated.